I realized it today. With tears, while riding in a marshrutka.
Prior to coming to Ukraine, I read a few posts from other adoptive families at times complaining about the process, the governments, the delays and the cities. I asked God, before I ever came to show me how to love this country. I didn't want to leave angry at the country. I am bringing a piece of this culture into my family. I want to love. I thought I was asking to enjoy Borsch and Veriniky... (And I do) To learn marshrutkas, trains and metros.
I have now been here through this revolution. I was here on November 21 when the EU document was rejected. I was arriving with my husband and two small children (and a friend) on December 1 when the violent attacks first happened on the protestors. I was here still on December 10, 17 and January 16 when the new laws were written. I walked the streets of EuroMaidan through this... My children have had their photo taken on Maidan. We have been watching, observing and even at times wanting to be a part of it. I heard the people sing. The songs of Les Mis echoing in my head..... "We will not be slaves again." But I saw myself as an outsider, an observer. Because I am not permanently here. It is not my home, not my battle, not my fight.
I returned to Kiev after a week in the US on January 28. I was in a taxi in Kiev on February 18, and 19 as the rumors were that the war had begun. People were being killed. I was inconvenienced by the metro shutdown. I was delayed by military roadblocks. I suddenly wanted out of here more than ever before. I realized that this American girl is a big chicken.
I have had comments made by people who can't comprehend our delays. We are in Kiev, it shouldn't take 13 weeks. I have looked for ways to place blame for our delays, but they are so widespread that there is no one person to blame. I have prayed for speed, for relief, for process.
And then, I have heard the stories of Ukrainians. Those who live in this delay and corruption constantly. Those who are not shocked by the corruption I have seen. Those who's very lives deal with this often, weekly, daily.
For the last two days I have watched from the village I call my temporary home as people in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and other cities fought, died, celebrated and mourned. I realized that my minor inconveniences these months are nothing compared to what the people are fighting for. They dream to be free. It is so much more than simply a desire for fast process. They fight for freedom. They are heroes.
Today I am watching as a government is being rebuilt. It hasn't been a clean process. It hasn't been easy by any stretch. People have died. Men and women, old and young. They have died to try to obtain for their children the things that I take for granted and honestly, came to expect when I arrived in Ukraine. They are dying to fight corruption. They have died for others. Many of These are not military, not trained fighters. They are moms and dads, grandfathers and grandsons. They are businessmen, doctors, students and factory workers. They have died for their freedom.
This began in November as a general protest against a turn eastward.... But it is no longer that. It is now a protest against the corruption that has infiltrated this country. It is a protest against the mentality that has delayed my process on multiple occasions. I will be clear, It is not for me that they fight.... But I have tasted and experienced a small portion of what they are protesting. I have waited weeks and months.... They live here and battle this for years and decades.
The people have maintained their own peace. They have captured their attackers, police, but they have not returned the torture. They have not Killed those that were captured. They have stopped them, held them.... Even arrested. But have not harmed them. I listened to speeches given to the people that from this point they should seek justice, not revenge. They clean up the fire stained square that has become a symbol of patriotism to the people. Sweeping and scrubbing to make the Maidan beautiful again. While cleaning they mourn the heroes that gave their lives for many.
The people tell stories of being captured by the police being beaten, having their mouths sewn shut and bruises across their body. They have been called names, been crucified and have had body parts cut off. They have been humiliated and stripped of clothing in sub-freezing temperatures. They stood as trained snipers picked them off from rooftops one at a time. The government then had to create roadblocks and stop trains.... Why? Not because these labeled 'terrorists' would leave, but Because they feared more people would come join the protest. They know how strong the movement is and they needed to stop more people from coming. The people were not afraid of what was happening, they were coming. The night after the snipers shot 75 people from rooftops, there were reported to be 350,000 people in the square. The people.... They came to defend their freedom. Their weapons were rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires. They faced high powered rifles, handguns and grenades. Yet, they came to fight.
Many of the government leaders are fleeing. They are showing cowardice in the face of having consequences for what they have done.
So, as I examine myself, this is what has happened to me. I love the people. I am amazed by their resilience, their passion, their restraint and discipline. This is, for me, what I came for. I didn't know a revolution was coming. I didn't know the process would take 13 weeks. I only knew I was coming for my daughter. I am not searching for fame or honor. It is not my story. I am honored to have been able to experience this. I am humbled by the opportunity to take a beautiful daughter of this country into my home. I am embarrassed by my own selfishness, panic and fear when so many were running to offer their own lives.
The people of Ukraine are strong.
My dear Ukraine, it is a small token I know, but I am proud of you. I came wanting to love you and I do. I didn't know how much I would love you.... And you have not made my path easy, but you have taught me much and I am amazed at what you have accomplished. You have a long road in front of you. There are possibly more battles, there are definitely many choices to be made and many days of progress... But now, I believe you will take the high road. You will be stronger for what you have accomplished. I respect you and will continue to pray for you. Last night I heard you give glory to God as you thanked Him for answering your prayers. If your eyes stay on Him, you will be a shining example to the world.